What is the difference between an agile coach and an agile consultant?

03 Apr 2023


The goal of agility or agile is to maximize rapid delivery of value whilst minimizing the risk associated with product development and project management. In essence, we are looking to capture and create value for both the customer and the organization, as quickly as possible, with as little risk as possible.

Agile empowers our team and our organization to quickly identify challenges, adapt, and respond effectively to opportunities and threats in our environments. In our client environments. In the markets we serve.

Business Agility.

The ability to successfully navigate complexity and uncertainty.

Agile Coaching versus Agile Consulting.

Consulting, as a general rule, thrives in the complicated space and has limited application in the complex space. Coaching, as a general rule, thrives in the complex space and has limited application in the complicated space.


Because in the complicated space, it is hard, but we know the best practices that lead to success. We have built the solution before, we have solved the problem before, and we know what needs doing in order to get the job done.

In the complex space, there are no best practices because nobody has ever solved the problem before, nor has anyone ever build the solution before, so nobody knows how to do the job effectively nor are they certain that they can do the job.

Kind of like the team who were tasked with sending a team of astronauts to the moon.

Zero frame of reference on how to do that and whether that is even possible given what we currently know, the technology available to us, and the skillsets we possess.

Agile Coaching.

The key to agile coaching is that you, as the agile coach, act as a mirror and use techniques, practices, and models to frame questions that lead to meaningful answers.

Questions that challenge, questions that probe, and questions that enable others to develop a clear sense of what their options are and which of those options is most likely to lead to the outcomes they desire.

As an agile coach, you will reflect people’s thinking and lines of reasoning to guide them to a valuable insight or breakthrough. We aren’t telling people what to do or how to solve the problem, we are guiding them to discover and create the best solution based on their knowledge and capability.

It’s their insight. It’s their solution. It’s their win. You don’t claim it nor are you responsible for it.

Agile Consulting

Agile consulting is very similar to elite level sports coaching and management.

The people on the ground understand the rules of the game, they have a fair idea of how to play the game well, but your contribution elevates their skills, practices, and techniques to the point where they excel.

To the point where they achieve and sustain competitive advantage.

An agile consultant usually is contracted to solve a problem or help a team overcome a challenge.

In many cases, it may be as broad as being asked to help the team adopt and implement scrum. As a skilled practitioner, you would start with the basics and increase the skill level with each iteration. Increase the complexity of what you are coaching with each evolution.

At other times, you are there to diagnose a problem that nobody has the skill or expertise to diagnose, and to develop a solution that allows the team to solve that problem or gain confidence and capability in that practice.

As an agile consultant, you would have mastered high performance as an agile practitioner and team member, and now you are helping others master agile or scrum in their unique context and application.

You can step into the complex space and help teams discover the best way forward because you have such deep, extensive experience with empiricism and navigating complexity. You know what would be useful to experiment with and you know what the team need to avoid.

You know what good looks like, you have a fair idea of what great looks like, and you have a clear idea of how to help the team evolve to good, and from good to great once they achieve that first milestone.

So, that’s the major difference between agile coaching and agile consulting.

About Advanced Product Delivery

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit https://www.apd.coach/training-courses/ for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we've got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit https://www.apd.coach/about-apd/ to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit our Lean Agile Procurement page on https://www.apd.coach/training-courses/lean-agile-...

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